Safety crops up as priority during busy fall harvest season

October 08, 2019

PORTLAND, Ore.   Harvests of many kinds are well underway in the many rural communities Pacific Power serves — from apples and pears to peas and pumpkins. The busy fall harvest season is the most highly productive yet most dangerous time of the year for farmers, ranchers and their work crews, according to the National Agricultural Safety Database.

“As the Northwest’s largest rural power supplier, we know that fall harvest is a critical time of year. This is when the year’s investment pays off, but only if you take the time to stay safe, which is why we are focused on this season as much as you are,” said Steve Harkin, Pacific Power’s director of safety and training. “Electricity helps with the harvest, but if you take it for granted and try to cut corners, tragedy could result.”

Customers and the public can get important safety materials, including Pacific Power’s Electrical Safety on Your Farm or Ranch brochure, or Alerta! Fuera de Casa brochure in Spanish, and Look Up and Live irrigation safety stickers in both English and Spanish – or schedule a free safety presentation – call Pacific Power toll free at 1-800-375-7085 or visit pacificpower.net/safety.

There are three main areas in which to concentrate safety efforts:

Power Line Safety

  • Be aware of overhead power lines. Lower auger, harvesters or other equipment to transport level to ensure adequate clearance when near power lines. Know the height of cultivators or planters in the fold-up position; the equipment may be taller than during field use.
  • If a tractor or vehicle comes in contact with a power line, remain seated until help arrives. If there is danger of fire, jump as far away from the tractor as possible and keep your feet together when landing. Do not allow any part of your body to touch the equipment and the ground at the same time. Many injuries have occurred when equipment operators attempted to get back on or touch equipment after dismounting.
  • Never attempt to raise or move a power line.
  • Watch for guy wires, which are attached to and support utility poles and the ground. Striking a guy wire can damage your equipment and weaken a pole or even bring live power lines down, creating an extremely hazardous situation.
  • Do not erect fence wire along the same route as an overhead line and do not string fence wire where it may come into contact with an overhead line.

Electrical Safety

  • Make sure all outlets are three-hole, grounded outlets with faceplates.
  • Install a lock-out switch that can turn off all electricity to one area, for fast action in an emergency.
  • If there are any doubts about the state of electrical circuits, wiring or equipment on a farm, have a licensed electrician inspect them.
  • Properly ground the entire electrical system and protect ground wires and rods from damage.

Grain Bin Safety

  • If it is necessary to enter a grain bin, shut off and lock out electricity before entering. Use a safety harness and safety line, and have people available outside the bin in case of an emergency.
  • Know the National Electric Safety Code requirements for horizontal clearance between the side of the grain bin and adjacent power lines and the vertical clearance above the bin to the nearest line. Make sure the wiring on the property complies with all codes.

If a line has fallen on the ground or on some other object or piece of equipment, always assume it’s hot, live or energized. Stay clear, keep others away and call 911 and Pacific Power toll free at 1-888-221-7070.

Another great source for safety information is the National Agricultural Safety Database. Visit nasdonline.org to find out more.

“By being extra careful and refreshing everyone on safety, especially with an expanded workforce on hand, we can all work together and enjoy a safe and bountiful harvest,” said Harkins.